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Optimistic Expectations: A Key Hidden Asset for All Advisors to Cultivate


Optimistic Expectations: A Key Hidden Asset for All Advisors to Cultivate

Winston Churchill said that “Success is stumbling from failure to failure, with no loss of enthusiasm.”

The essence of embracing an optimistic expectation style is much more than believing that “the glass is half-full.” Also, optimism is not the act of being oblivious to bad situations. That is denial. In short, optimistic thinking is refusing to succumb to feeling hopeless after unfortunate situations occur.

For advisors, having an optimistic expectation style of thinking is an important emotional competence that can boost productivity, reduce stress and build new referrals.

There is a tremendously body of research backing the amazing power and benefits of developing optimistic expectations following unfortunate situations, both in your career and in your life.

It’s important to understand that having optimistic expectations following unfortunate situations is a trait that can be learned and it relates to how much control you perceive that you have in that situation, how permanent you believe the outcome will last and what steps you can take to learn from it and move on.

Optimistic thinkers look at unfortunate situations as temporary, not under their control, and not reflective of a weakness on their part. Consequently, they believe that good news is just around the corner, will involve matters they can control, and is reflective of their work ethic and ability to thrive despite inevitable “bad news.

Just think about your thinking patterns right after market volatility or meeting with a disgruntled client. Do you blame yourself for not anticipating the market volatility or not dealing appropriately with that client, or do you recognize that “this too, shall pass” and believe that good news is just around the corner for you?

A Key Research Finding With Life Insurance Producers

Forty years of research into the power of optimistic thinking actually began in the life insurance industry, with MetLife. The researchers discovered that agents with the most optimistic style of thinking outsold the most pessimistic thinkers by 88%! Furthermore, the wash-out rate for the pessimistic thinkers was twice that of the optimistic thinkers.

The researchers surmised that the optimistic sales professionals were more likely to persist until their goal was achieved, rather than give up or view a “no sale” as a personal rejection.

Moreover, the researchers found that a pessimistic explanatory style leads to poor productivity and a tendency to quit when things aren’t going well. With pessimistic thinking there tends to be a feeling of hopelessness.

Key Benefits of Optimistic Thinking

If you’re fortunate enough to have optimistic thinking habits in your DNA, that’s wonderful. But the good news is that anyone can absolutely learn how to become and remain an optimistic thinker, despite their DNA. You might ask yourself why you should care if you’re a pessimistic thinker, since you have been a successful advisor. Well, besides the lower stress you will feel, here are proven, powerful benefits of adapting an optimistic thinking style:

Optimistic Thinkers Live Longer

This connection has been shown consistently in over 40 years of research: There is a direct correlation between Optimistic thinking and overall health and longevity.

Optimistic thinkers have lower rates of Hypertension and heart disease and lower rates of mortality in general. On average, optimists actually live about 8 to 10 years longer than pessimists!

There are similar mortality differences between optimistic and pessimistic people with serious diseases. The optimists maintain hope and the pessimists feel hopeless.

Optimists Have Healthier Relationships

Researchers from Stanford University found that optimists have higher quality and longer-lasting romantic relationships. This is probably due to the optimistic expectations after relationship challenges that “this setback is temporary and we can bounce back from any setback.”

It’s not too much of a stretch to assume that optimistic advisors will have much better relationships with their co-workers and clients, for the same reason.

Optimists Are, On Average, More Successful

I mentioned that life insurance sales professionals show a marked difference in their success rates, depending upon whether they are optimistic or pessimistic thinkers.

When setbacks occur, optimistically-oriented insurance professionals tell themselves that “this was a fluke, a temporary setback and not reflective of my skill and talent. I look forward to the next opportunity to succeed.”

On the other hand, pessimistic sales professionals tell themselves negative, self-defeating thoughts, such as, “It figures, because bad things always happen to me and I have no control over it.”

Optimistic Thinkers Bounce Back Quicker and Stronger

In my long career working with elite athletes, it became clear to me that optimistic athletes learned from their mistakes, anticipated the next opportunity, and bounced back quickly. On the other hand, the pessimistic athletes (often bigger, stronger and more talented than the optimists) seemed to give up more easily, assuming they didn’t have what it takes to succeed consistently. When they were taught how to change their thinking habits to a more optimistic style, the former pessimists performed exactly the same as their optimistic counterparts.

In my mentoring and consulting with financial professionals, the exact same dynamics are found. Many producers/advisors who sought my advice were on the brink of changing careers because they felt helpless. Once I showed them how to change their thinking, their success rates skyrocketed.

If you believe you are a pessimistic thinker and you’d like to learn how to develop a consistently optimistic thinking style, contact me!

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